Southern Regional Cheer Squad Gearing Up for the Big Show in Disney
While the local high school cheerleading squads have been intact since the summer and each has worked hard throughout the fall, occasionally competing as they geared up for the “real” season, the winter months are when the heat rises within the competition schedule. And this winter, Southern Regional is preparing for the big dance in Orlando, Fla. – the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s National High School Championships, scheduled for Feb. 11-12 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.
Of course, in the meantime, the Rams’ cheer crew will be seeking additional hardware during the weeks leading up to the national competition.
After placing well at the Northeast Regional qualifiers the past two seasons, the Rams cheerleaders seem to be on the rise. And unlike last year, when they didn’t get out of the preliminary round of a loaded division, Southern is aiming for a better showing in the Varsity Game Day division at this year’s national competition.
“Our team’s goals are to continually progress in all aspects of what we do – cheer, dance, tumbling, stunting and jumps – so that we improve our routines and be more competitive the next time we are out on the mat,” said coach Lisa Merlo, whose squad this year has 22 members with 15 of them returning from last season’s group.
At the Northeast Regional competition in November, the Rams placed ninth in their division to earn a spot in the big show in Orlando, and they, too, expect to improve throughout January, particularly as host of the Rams Invitational on Sunday, Jan. 22, as well as during the annual Wildcats Classic at Pinelands Regional on Jan. 29.
“Even though the local competitions may not be as competitive as you’d like, it’s always good to support the local events and get feedback from the judges because they help prepare you for the bigger events,” Merlo said. “And by increasing the difficulty and execution of the skills our girls are performing, it allows a greater opportunity to experience additional successes, especially at the national level.”
Leading the Rams this season are five seniors – Tiffanie Colecchia, Kaitlynn Dixon, Shannon Mathis, Shannon Nauta and Chelsea Wagner – while juniors Meghan Kendall, Jessica Lependorf, Amy Lyle and Victoria Sheeran help make up almost half the team. The rest of the crew includes sophomores Rachel Clune, Victoria Cranmer, Ashley Gale, Madalynn Lacko, Olivia Lemma, Emily Leonard, Kim Miele and Brielle Mulrane, and freshmen Shayna Rainone, Olivia Murawski, Bella Jeramias, Jenna Hanford and Emily Bartolini.
— David Biggy